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STENELLIAN ASCENDANCY | Empress Xue'Daio Nox | "Jolan'tru e'lev"

Posted on 242004.22 @ 02:31 by Xue'Daio Nox

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Apsha

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

It was cold that day in late April, Spring nowhere to be found - a fitting scene for a funeral such as the one transpiring but hardly fitting for the man being laid to rest. Without a body, the only thing to be done was funeral by rites and rites alone. The pyre would burn before being taken by the shifting tides - but the Emperor’s body would remain lost to the tides of time and space and replaced by a rather elaborate symbolic body of black royal robes and a series of flowers that only bloomed beneath the fingers of winter’s holy chill.

It would be easier that way… Xue wouldn’t have to gaze upon him as the fire engulfed him, and while the lack of a body bothered most, it gave her some well hidden peace and perhaps even hope that he lived on… Even if it meant he was a traitor and danger not only to the crown - but to the whole of the Ascendancy.

Of course things were never that easy and the young royal knew that full and well, refusing to disillusion herself with thoughts of anything more or less than the hardship that was to pass. She’d put this moment off for as long as she possibly could, denying the people of the Ascendancy closure that the Senate had demanded she give them. It was selfish, true, but there was a dwindling part of her that believed that Maec still lived… Somewhere… Out there… And he was coming for her as he swore he always would.

In truth she’d loved him for his strength and for the gentle side of himself that he exposed to her and her alone. Theirs was not a conventional love story. Theirs was a tale of two parts of a chaotic whole that never should have been, but was destined to be legendary. The sun courting the moon, binary stars struggling not to collide with one another. It didn’t matter how some looked upon them, all that mattered was that it worked and worked it had until he’d missed a check in point and life had begun to spiral away from the beauty that was them. Part of the bit of her that believed he was alive struggled to believe that he’d returned to Romulus, taken his place once more in the court of the Praetor. He was, after all, her nephew. and the son of a Senator most powerful - but he’d renounced those ties the moment he’d killed Psy’Daio and breathed life back into Xue, capturing her for his own and later choosing to sit beside her as Emperor of the Ascendancy… Beneath them, life had flourished and a daughter had been born and she’d become the center of their world.

And now… The sun was gone, the star burnt out… The light all but extinguished as she did her best to ignore the child growing within her, bred by another, as she set forth to lay her husband to rest.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The scepter, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

The Empress showed few, if any, outward signs of distress as she descended to the beach along a trail of savage, ice-slick rocks. Dark as coal, they did little to disguise her even in her simple, shapeless black silks. Instead, she stood out like a beacon of light against the early morning darkness - stalwart and smooth as each barefooted step was taken with delicate precision. No mind was given to fear of injury or certain death should she fall, though she could practically hear the procession of Makta behind her buzzing away over how one small misstep or slip could leave their precious Queen shredded to ribbons and broken at the bottom of cliffs they walked. She cared for none of it, instead focusing on the sight and sound of the sea’s foamy anger as it raced against the beach below. Her keen eyes could just barely make out the sea-wall jutting out into its roiling fathoms just west of their destination, knowing the memories it held and knowing how they’d be forever burned into her psyche. Her heart surged at the thought, her lips burned in response. So young they’d been, so foolish - but love knew no bounds and leaps of faith and the bounds that tie souls together had been well established and forged - iron clad. There was no denying it, and she never would. Honor him she always would, regardless of mistakes made or those who’d rebuke him for his blood.

With the future scorned by the burning knowledge of loss, her choice to honor the past had been simple and easily made much to the chagrin of her court, moreso her decision to embrace Maec’s beloved Romulan heritage. While the simple formless black frock of mourning rested over her body, it did nothing to hide, nor cage, the onyx and gold ink work along her muted glowing arms. Sigils, ancient Romulan in origin, ordained her silken skin with proof positive that she loved and mourned the man she’d given her life to and now was laying to rest. Her ears, though mainly obscured by her unbound and wind whipped alabaster mane, bore silver cuffs that formed delicate points above the shell-like crest of her natural ear, twisting and covering the pallid skin beneath with elegant filigree.

Each choice had been made in reverence and love for him, and perhaps even guilt for her anger and frustration over his prolonged absence that had lead her down the path to sharing herself with another. Her eyes, the bright amber-rose of them, closed against such a thought, taking her attention and vision off the dangerous ancient path of the funeral walk ahead.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.”

It hurt - the cut of biting, razorglass sharp rock against a misplaced foot absolutely seized her, but Xue refused to emit even the slightest whimper, nor did she limp or stagger. There was half a stride that reminder her to open her eyes, half a stride where she may have faltered - but the savage gust of winter wind was a proud scapegoat for any waiver in her movement, and no one would be staring at the ground, looking for the trail of pink she’d leave behind to soak into the unforgiving stone with every additional footfall. She deserved such an injury - a smarting reminder that she’d been a fool to take her eyes off the target ahead.

The rest of the dirge was, however, uneventful - allowing her retinue to reach the pyre just as the sun was beginning to stain the horizon red. A storm was coming, how fitting she thought, coming to rest before the Escobaren waiting for her presence. In their golden robes they stood out like a sore thumb among the court and regency that had gathered to bless the path to Lingunai Maec would take. Like Valhalla and the legends of Vikings, it was believed that only the worthiest of men and women made it to Lingunai - and Xue could only hope that, were it true… Were he truly gone… His death came by him the same way his life had; strong, with courage, with a fight. Maec i'Ahaefvthe tr'Verelan had never been a coward. Never, and neither had she for that matter.

“Deno mektat?” Are you ready?, asked the Escobaren in unison, prying her back to the here and now and away from those memories before they could dissolve her mind and pull her further down the rabbit hole.

She nodded, waving a delicate hand, “Do bankite dat dia, elgoun’doloun, ekbat de sabat Escobaren. Azan.” No need to delay, honorable Priests. Proceed. and while the words seemed so cold, so full of power and lack of pain, the young Empress felt her heart shatter. She was letting go… She had to let go… But she couldn’t, she simply wasn’t ready. The decision to proceed was one made by a royal, someone who had to move forward for the good of her people and she made it readily even while the part of her that was merely a woman, like any other, begged for everything to stop and them to simply wait and see. In that precariously precious moment in time, Xue was unsure which pain was worse; the shock of having to let go - of what had happened - or the ache for what never would.

Grief, however, was like the ocean. She knew, deep down, that if came in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water would be calm and sometimes it would be tumultuous and overwhelming, threatening to drown her if she allowed it to consume her. All she could do was learn to swim and fight the current. The reality of it all was that she would grieve forever. No one ever gets over the loss of a loved one; they simply learn to live with it. Like the Ascendancy as a whole, she'd heal, she'd rebuild herself around the loss she'd suffered, and she'd eventually be whole again, but she'd never be the same. Nor should she be the same. She wouldn't want to. Surviving and finding purpose in the chaos all around her, even moving on, didn't mean that she was letting go of him or the memories of him. Digging her toes into the sand, and ignoring the aching protest of her injured foot, the Empress willed herself to stand firm.

“Assta deon banaletot ashan assta Banaletot azan bet’met kaji kan fer chay awa amna dat mavano dat amin piti dolgaban dat afta. Teno asountimon tokemata’met dat awa ‘Min assta ligurat dat soun polygot deno achta azapo soun denamaf hany soun bet dat moondelay, fer foun ni soun ont bet’met; dat moondelay soun o ashan moondekay soun achta asountimon.’ bom san’ogon awa asountimon o hamas kan hamast’met o kulka dat deo. Caupo dat awa, caupo dat dat awa Chimmas. Awa itchewa do bom assin alsia djala assin chay foun, ilo djala assin eto’helet.” The Gods gave and the Gods have taken away that which was ours only to borrow for a short period of time. They have said to us ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’ but today we return dust to the Gods as gold. Today we return a man that forged a path of miracles, devout to us, devout to our Queen. We remember not how he was born or what he was born, but what he grew to be…

Xue’s chin quivered briefly as the Priests began to speak and she quickly lifted it in sheer defiance against the burning prickles of hot tears that threatened to spill. She wouldn’t weep openly, not in front of her delegation - and certainly not in front of Starfleet. Commodore Rochelle Ivanova, whether in her uniform or tucked away in traditional black robes, hood drawn, was unmistakable. Her respect was palpable, choosing to pass on her insignias and ranks in favor of Stenellian tradition was most admirable - but she was still Starfleet… And yet, as Xue passed her eyes in the woman’s direction, the Empress couldn’t help but feel slightly comforted. Perhaps by the intrinsic knowledge that the Terran too had loved and lost and still managed to reign supreme and hold the respect of her people even when she must have felt like doing nothing more than crumbling to cinders.

Maec had once referred to the woman as an Alth'Indor, something Xue had learned was the Romulan version of the legendary Terran Phoenix - a creature fierce and proud that would birth itself from the ashes of its death to rise and rise again. She’d taken great pride and amusement in informing him that he wasn’t wrong only to have him smile that savage, all knowing smile when he informed her that he’d learned through intel that the woman’s crew had long since branded her as such, of course he wasn’t wrong. Now, though… Xue herself would have to take a similar step forward and learn to embrace the fire that drove the Alth'Indor onward through each and every battle that lay ahead… Starting with saying the ultimate goodbye to the Emperor.

Sometimes one never knows how strong they are until being strong was the only choice they had... And she'd reached that point.

Beside them all the sea raged, straining at her binds to reach the pyre as it was lit. Xue flinched ever so slightly as it erupted into flame, quickly setting fire to the soft silken royal robes that had once adorned the Emperor’s body. The flowers laid over it began to wilt and cower in on themselves, and Xue knew the feeling all too well. She stood firm. Solid and rooted as the Priests blessings droned on and holy oils and blessings were sprinkled upon the roaring pyre. The tide itself roared in her ears as the first told tendrils of its fingers reached high enough to coil about her ankles. The pyre, the lowests bits of blazing wood, hissed as steam rose in anguish from the cold assault.

“Jolan'tru e'lev..." Goodbye my love... The Romulan words slipped over her lips hot as the fire itself. All but silent, the meaning would forever burn her… Forever scar her. So many times they’d been said before and so many times he’d returned. Now they seemed to infinite. So finite. So cruel… But they belonged uniquely to him and he deserved, wherever he was, to hear them and know she didn’t, and wouldn’t, blame him.

No sooner did each thundering crash of the rising, bitter cold tide begin to sweep the pyre out to sea, did Xue become acutely aware of Sanra’s presence, sweet and innocent. Taking her mother by the hand and huddling close beside her when she should have run further up the beach to avoid the dangers of the cold waves, Sanra refused to leave her side. The child, painted by the stars, was slowly blossoming into a brave and beautiful young woman - proof positive of her father’s immortality as he lived on in her veins. Sparing a glance down at her daughter, Xue immediately recognized the strength she found in the girl’s oil-black eyes, marveling as they shined back up at her in silent promise that all would be well. The babe no doubt mourned the loss of her father, but was determined as hell to keep her mother rooted and grounded firmly in this world regardless of the imposition it posed in any fashion.

Crossing her swollen belly, Xue’s free hand cupped Sanra’s face and stroked her chilled little cheek, smoothing away a stubborn tear that had slowly begun to roll down it’s wind chapped contour. “He’s still here, Sanra,” She whispered, tucking a blowing strand of ebony back behind the child’s ear. The chanted blessings of the Priests had reached fever pitch now that the sea was chaperoning the memory of Maec away towards Linguinai, “I can see him.” Sanra knowingly nodded, offered a small, sad smile, and rested her head against her mother’s hip, choosing to watch as her father’s funeral pyre slowly drifted towards the horizon until only white smoke and steam could barely be distinguished from white caps and clouds in the distance.

All of it threatened to bring the woman to her knees, and maybe it was the simple knowledge that she simply wasn’t designed to live very long in cold water that forced her to remain standing - or was it the willpower of the little girl that held her tight? Neither Sanra, nor Maec, would have wanted her to falter or be taken from life in such a manner. Too strong, too fierce, Xue’Daio Nox was royal born, but Makta bred and she’d continue to fight for life and everything that she and Maec had held holy - especially Sanra. Strong, beautiful, brave Sanra.

“Dat Deo staan dat Linguinai, lacta eto dat Chimmas!” The Emperor rises to Heaven, long live the Empress! The shout tore up the beach and the delegation parted to make way for the black-clad Queen and the Princess. Briefly, for but a fleeting moment in time, the bright amber-rose of the albino’s eyes met the arctic blue of the Commodore’s in a single glance that spoke of understanding, of respect, of knowing that was beyond mere mortal comprehension - and Xue knew then what must occur if ever the future were to be as prosperous as Maec had once planned.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownèd be thy grave!


Xue'Daio Nox
Empress of the Stenellian Ascendancy
Queen Regnant of Apsha
Queen of Aliene


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